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Hundreds mourn trooper Micah May at Las Vegas memorial service

Updated August 6, 2021 - 6:00 pm

Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Micah May was uncomfortable receiving recognition for his accomplishments, his best friend said, because he thought he was just doing his job.

But on Friday, the Las Vegas Valley paused to remember the 46-year-old father of two and 13-year veteran of the Highway Patrol who died last week after he was struck in a vehicle pursuit. Strip marquees flashed his face, and traffic stopped as law enforcement officers and first responders from across the valley escorted his body to a memorial service in a Henderson, where hundreds of people filled a church to hear about May’s life.

“Micah was a true silent guardian with a warrior spirit,” May’s best friend, retired Highway Patrol Sgt. Russ Marco, told the crowd of mourners and row after row of uniformed officers.

May died two days after he was struck by a stolen car on July 27 during a pursuit on Interstate 15. He was attempting to deploy “stop sticks” intended to puncture the stolen vehicle’s tires near Charleston Boulevard, the Highway Patrol has said.

On Friday morning, a procession stretching miles escorted May’s body from Palm Mortuary-Downtown, 1325 N. Main St., to the memorial service at Henderson’s Central Church, 1001 New Beginnings Drive.

Hundreds of officers and law enforcement vehicles followed the hearse to the church and saluted as he was brought inside for the service, including officers from out of state. An honor guard and bagpipers escorted the casket draped in an American flag, with May’s wife, Joanna, walking behind it.

Following the memorial service, another procession took May’s body to a public graveside service at Palm Mortuary-Eastern, 7600 S. Eastern Ave.

‘Character and commitment’

May’s death was a “wake-up call” for law enforcement, Highway Patrol Col. Anne Carpenter told the crowd during the memorial service.

“That is something a trooper always tries to mentally prepare for, but this tragedy has taken everyone’s words away,” she said. “It takes character and commitment to put the lives of others before our own, which is why we should remember and honor our fallen.”

Carpenter announced that May received two certificates of commendation — a medal of valor and a purple heart — in honor of his death in the line of duty. He had previously received a “caring enough to make a difference award” for his dedication to stopping impaired drivers, and another medal of valor for a 2012 vehicle pursuit “similar to the one that took his life,” Carpenter said.

After his death, May saved four other lives when his heart, liver and both kidneys were donated, she said.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman told May’s family that the 46-year-old was a “role model” who put his life in harm’s way multiple times.

“We realize that … occasionally throughout life does that rarest of human beings come along among us — an individual who stands alone out there as one who is deeply caring, sensitive, loyal, loving, honorable and a model of exemplary humanity,” Goodman said.

‘Love for each other’

May’s younger brothers and his best friend told stories of a man who took his job seriously but loved to have fun. Videos and pictures played for the crowd showed May dancing with his children, playing in the snow or striking a silly pose.

“Micah was uniquely funny, and a timed one-liner was his specialty,” Marco said. “He loved to be part of a fun time, with genuine laughter, big smiles and love for each other.”

May grew up in the small Massachusetts town of Greenfield, where he loved the snow and cold, according to his obituary. His brother, Paul May, said he spent his childhood playing in the woods, watching his older brother climb the tallest trees they could find and hiding from Micah’s BB gun.

Paul May said when he and his brother were children, their mother tried explaining heaven. He pictured people kneeling in the clouds looking down on him.

“I’d like to think that for the last week and a half, he’s been up there, poking his head out from the clouds and taking daredevil leaps between them, while mischievously bringing rain and rainbows to Las Vegas,” Paul May said as his voice cracked with emotion.

According to May’s obituary, he tested for the Highway Patrol in 2008 to follow his “dream” of being in law enforcement. His job brought him to Nevada, which led him to his wife.

He met Joanna May at Tropicana Avenue and U.S. Highway 95, “where he may or may not have pulled her over for speeding,” the obituary said. The couple had two young children, Raylan and Melody.

At the graveside service Friday afternoon, May’s casket was again escorted by uniformed officers and bagpipers, and he was honored with a three-volley salute.

Before the casket was lowered into the grave, Joanna May and her children were given a few moments alone with Micah May, each clutching a white rose.

Raylan stared intently at the casket when his turn came. The young boy looked around for a few seconds, then back to his mother, before dropping the rose. He quickly reached for his mother’s hand and held it tightly.

A final call

Before he was struck by the stolen vehicle last week, May and other troopers were responding to an armed carjacking call near Sunset Road and Las Vegas Boulevard. The carjacker, identified as 60-year-old Douglas Claiborne, led officials on a pursuit while driving erratically on and off the freeway, avoiding six sets of stop sticks meant to slow him down, Las Vegas police have said.

May was putting out the seventh set of stop sticks when Claiborne drove around them and hit May. He continued to drive for about a mile with May lodged in the vehicle’s windshield, police said.

Troopers stopped Claiborne by ramming his vehicle, and police shot and killed him when he tried to grab May’s gun, Las Vegas police have said.

Data maintained by the FBI shows that May was the second Nevada trooper to die in the line of duty in nearly three decades and the 12th overall.

May is survived by his wife and their two children; his parents, Edwin and Katherine; and his brothers, Seth and Paul, according to his obituary.

As the memorial service ended at the Henderson church, an honor guard slowly folded the American flag draped over May’s casket, which would be presented to Joanna. A dispatcher’s voice echoed from the church speakers, asking May to respond for a final call. No one answered.

“Godspeed sir,” she said. “Rest in peace. We have it from here.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal intern Mathew Miranda contributed to this report.

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